The New York Times restaurant critic Sam Sifton will become the newspaper’s national editor, he announced today from his Twitter account.
The announcement comes just days after WWD broke the news that Sifton was a leading candidate for the position, despite his lack of experience as a national reporter or editor. But this won’t be the first unexpected appointment from new executive editor Jill Abramson, who recently surprised the media world by naming David Leonhardt as the newspaper’s Washington bureau chief.
When asked if she would make further “surprise” choices, she told WWD, “I’m looking for the absolute strongest journalists for these positions, and looking for what will be best for The New York Times . . . I don’t care about the element of surprise. Doing my job is not a public performance.”
Nevertheless, Sifton’s latest appointment is sure to raise a few eyebrows. Since joining the Times in 2001, Sifton has acted as deputy dining editor, dining editor, and deputy culture editor, before taking Frank Bruni’s spot as chief restaurant critic in 2009 (then-editor Bill Keller called the choice “obvious and eccentric” in his announcement to the staff). Sifton was also a founding editor of Tina Brown’s now-defunct Talk magazine.